FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – As an artist whose work often involves fantastical creatures, the opossum was a natural for Anya Boz to include as part of her new mural.

It was opposite the cicada, and flanked by a toad, and a heron — which has hands along with wings.

“They’re kind of so common you don’t really think about them,” she said describing her animals of choice. “The royalty of their kind.”

The New York artist, who grew up in Keller, was sitting on a scaffold along the West Fork Trinity River Friday, finishing the wings on the cicada.

Her canvas was a pair of tall, rectangular concrete flood gates. They stand out among the trees, grasses and bends of the river that the Trinity Trails system follows.

A series of more than 20 of the utilitarian gates are now receiving an artistic redesign. It’s part of a curated art project put together by the Tarrant Regional Water District.

(Credit: Tarrant Regional Water District)

“They’re going to be there, so what else can we do?,” said Tina Nikolic, a recreation program coordinator for the district. “What other experience can we add to the trail users?

Murals made the most sense she said, and the district put out a request for submissions from artists, using a theme of Nature, River, Water. They didn’t know what to expect but ended up receiving hundreds of submissions from around the world.

The concepts were narrowed down, much the same way a gallery would curate a show, telling a story along the 12 miles of trail where the flood gates are located.

“Our intention was always to try and curate an experience, with all of these structures,” Nikolic said.

Some structures have taken on grasses, flowers and insects that occupy the steep banks of the levees. Others include cowboys and images of the west.

(Credit: Tarrant Regional Water District)

The intent was not just to beautify the area for those using the trails but to draw others out who may not be utilizing them. Nikolic said there have already been bike tours organized by groups who want to see some of the pieces already finished.

The artists are being paid for their work, with the TRWD committing $120,00 to the project. It also acts as a graffiti abatement project. Many layers of paint had to be scraped off the old concrete, from covering the numerous times they were vandalized over the years.

The work is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

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